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NS Health & Cape Breton University partner to open Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic

Newcomers living in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) have a new option to access primary health care. Nova Scotia Health (NS Health) and Cape Breton University (CBU) are partnering to open the Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic.

Located in the Nancy Dingwall Health & Counselling Centre on the CBU campus, the clinic opened its doors last Friday and is providing primary care to those who have moved to Canada within the last five years, live in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and are without a permanent primary care provider (physician or nurse practitioner).

“In partnership with Cape Breton University, we came together with a mutual goal; create a space that would provide safe and culturally sensitive care to newcomers," said Sarah O’Brien, director of Primary Health Care, Eastern Zone, Nova Scotia Health.

"We know that without this sort of access, people visit our emergency departments unnecessarily, so our hope is to reduce that need for this rapidly growing population of newcomers by ensuring they have timely access to the right level of care,” she said.

The Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic differs from other primary care clinics in that patients are not required to register on the Need a Family Practice Registry, and initial appointments are made through referrals from community partners such as the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration (CBICI), YREACH Settlement Services (YMCA), Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education (CBVRCE), as well as Nova Scotia Health programs and services (Public Health, emergency departments, Urgent Treatment Centers, etc.)

“The Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre has had the honour of providing primary health care and mental health support to students who are new to Canada. We learned about their health care needs and what their health care system looked like in their home country. This information helped us hone our expertise in newcomer health,” says Judy Kelley, director of Health and Counselling at CBU.

“Our language interpretation services, and extended clinic appointment times will ensure the families we see are well taken care of, which in turn, will take pressure off of urgent and emergency care centres in our area," she said.

The Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic is co-located within the existing CBU health care clinic for students, faculty, and staff. Newcomers who are CBU students, faculty, and staff will continue to book appointments through this clinic. The co-location of the clinics allowed the CBU clinic to enhance its hours of operation into evenings and weekends.

The Cape Breton Newcomer Primary Care Clinic will be open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The clinic will eventually relocate to a new location within the Canada Games Complex as part of the facilities’ revitalization. This will take place in late 2024.

“These are early days for the clinic; however, we hope to expand services to those living outside the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and grow our community partner referral base in the future,” O'Brien said.

Visit for more information.

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